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Facelifts Through Time

We're continuing to celebrate 136 years of faithful service to the people of the Diocese of Scranton and beyond by sharing our favorite throwback photos and historical memories. Today's photo highlights the changing facade of the Cathedral over the years.

The original church at Wyoming and Linden was begun in 1865 by Scranton's leading architect at the time, Joel Amsden. It marked the first time a professional talent was used locally in designing a Catholic church and the first time that something other thana s simple frame structure was envisioned.

He chose to construct a basilica type church featuring a classical Grecian style exterior. With brick outer walls and a slate roof, the 158 feet long and 68 feet wide building became one of the largest churches in the state.

In 1884, Philadelphia architect Edwin Forrest Durang, a French Catholic, was hired to direct a project at a cost of $30,000 and chose a Second Empire style to express the new industrial wealth of the area at the time. One of the key decisions was to raise the two towers to a height that dominated the skyline, a symbolic act illustrating to the earthbound the glory of life in higher realms. It was at this time that side entrances were added to the building.

In 1921, the Cathedral was renovated once again which resulted, among other things, in the substantial change to the exterior entrance. This renovation, headed by architect John J. Howley saw the removal of the three arches resting on cast iron fluted Corinthian pillars. The architect felt that, while the columns kept the architectural feel of the interior of the church, it detracted from the otherwise impressive nature of the facade.

The front steps would now run the entire length of the front of the church. The material used for the steps, porch columns, and door frames was Indiana limestone which contrasted with the red brick. It was also during this renovation that the slate roof tiles were replaced by terra cotta tiles.

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